In building a new shoe and athleticwear brand from scratch, Brandblack founder David Raysse and creative director Billy Dill obsessed over (in their words, “geeked-out over” ) every last detail, including the logo: an unadorned jet in silhouette.
“The logo was really important,” says Raysse, a veteran of the athletic shoe industry. “Having done shoes for so long, you’re always so jealous and frustrated with the [simplicity of the Nike] swoosh because you’re like, ‘Damn it, I have to stick these ridiculous [Adidas] stripes on a shoe.’ No matter what the shoe looks like, as soon as you stick the three stripes on a shoe you think: ‘Wow, there it goes — it’s ruined.’ … A lot of logos are so strong they dominate everything else. I wanted something that was non-spatially specific, something that had speed to it, something that could register quite small and from a distance — all the things I envied about the swoosh without being a swoosh.”
Raysse likes to talk about the battle to get a toehold in the sports performance market as “fighting an asymmetrical war” against the 800-pound gorillas of the category, brands like Nike and Under Armour. “Like if the champ is a southpaw, don’t fight him like a southpaw or you’re going to get knocked out,” he says. “Nike is what Nike is and they do what they do. Don’t try to do exactly what Nike does because you can’t.”
So about Brandblack’s simple jet logo: “It’s the side elevation of the [Lockheed] SR 71 Blackbird,” Raysse says. “It’s that super-famous spy plane from the ‘70s … we wanted it to evoke that kind of Kubrick-era retro-futurism with the silver suits and the bimbos in [space] helmets.”
While Raysse and company are determined to forge their own path with Brandblack, they’re clearly hoping that a borrowed page from Nike’s less-logo-is-more playbook will help them take wing.